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What if your spouse has ADD?

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  • What if your spouse has ADD?

    We've talked about kids with disabilities, but how about the adult leaders? My husband most likely has Attention Deficit Disorder. Our older son has been tested and is considered borderline ADD. Our younger son is on Ritalin for ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity). The Ritalin has had a highly positive effect on Younger Son's life.

    My husband jokes about going on Ritalin, but never seriously considers going in to be tested. Here are a couple examples of how his attention problems affect our daily lives:

    Just this morning, hubby and older son were getting ready to go help out at our CO's pancake breakfast fundraiser. Yesterday, Hubby and I discussed the schedule, of how we were going to get to church and the breakfast. We also discussed the fact that Hubby needed to pick up another scout (whom we help out a lot, since his dad is a widower who has 2 younger boys.) This morning I encouraged Hubby and Son to hurry, since OtherScout was waiting for them. Not 5 minutes later, Hubby asked me, "Do I need to pick up OtherScout?" At first, I thought he was teasing me, but he seriously didn't know!

    One evening, I was planning to run errands that would put me back home after the boys were in bed. I made sure Hubby was looking directly at me, and felt confident he was paying attention, when I reminded him, "Remember to have Son do 1 puff of his green inhaler, followed by 2 puffs of his brown inhaler." This is something Son had been doing EVERY night for over a year. Just before I left, Hubby asked, "Does Son need to do inhalers tonight?" Not, "which inhalers, or how many puffs," but does he even have to do them?! Again, I thought Hubby was teasing me, but he really didn't know.

    These are but two examples of many that happen daily. Does anyone have suggestions on how to get Hubby to go in for testing? Does anyone else live with a spouse with ADD? I have learned to WRITE down the important things, since Hubby's listening skills are poor.

    Before anyone suggests getting his hearing tested, that has been done. When I used to work as a school speech-language pathologist, I had access to a portable audiometer. I brought it home one evening and tested Hubby's hearing. I was absolutely shocked that his hearing was well within normal limits!

  • #2
    Yep, there is ample evidence that there is a genetic link to ADHD. Has your husband done any reasearch or read any of the online articles on ADHD? Have you talked to him about how his behaviours are similar to those of his son? Since both of your sons have been diagognosed, are they seeing a P-doc or some type of counselor? Or, are you simply going thru your family doctor?

    A Phych or another type of counselor doc would be best, but if you either are not using one, or can't get him to attend a session, then make an appointment with your family doctor to talk about this. Don't give him the option, just make the appointment & get him there.

    Granted, he is most likely ADHD, but there could be other reasons for his problems too. ADHD VERY rarely travels alone & sometimes what looks like one problem could be something else entirely.

    Good Luck, I know how hard it can be!


    • #3
      My sons were diagnosed by a psychologist who specializes in ADD/ADHD. Younger son gets his Ritalin from his pediatrician. Younger son also works with the school counselor as well as the psychologist, because he has anger problems as well.

      I like your idea of making an appointment for my husband and then telling him to go. I think he'd do that.


      • #4
        My spouse faces the same dilemma. Her spouse was clinically diagnosed with Adult ADD 5 years ago. The aforementioned patient, lets call him Gern, had shown signs of ADD from childhood but was never treated. Gern was the kind of guy who never studied, but aced the exams. Report cards always came back, "exceptionally bright, but doesn't apply himself". Never turned in homework but was two steps in front of the teacher. Those reports followed Gern into his professional career. "Go to guy when there's a problem, but doesn't follow through with the details". Both a bosses dream and nightmare. Gern was successful and admired by his peers, but never promoted to upper management, thank goodness.
        After diagnosis, he tried several medications, but Gern didn't like the side effects or they had no effect at all. Gern read several books on adult ADD and tried several self help methods. None worked.
        The problem with most adult ADD patients is their desire to self medicate. This leads to high incidents of drug and alcohol abuse, cocaine being the drug of choice. Cocaine allows the ADD patient to focus on the task at hand. Gives temporary relief to the wanderings. No wonder that Ritalin is called "kiddie coke". Another bad trait is the inability or want to commit to long term relationships. Luckily, Gern has avoided those pitfalls and leads a generally happy and fulfilling life. Gern has learned to live with it, adapt. Much like someone who loses a limb learns to adapt. Gern's spouse is also supportive and understanding. If she wants Gern to accomplish something, she writes it down, doesn't nag. A punch list of outstanding tasks is found every Saturday morning on the night stand. Very detailed and do-able. Gern happily checks those things off between his wanderings to the next shiny object that might catch his attention, if only briefly.


        • #5

          Thanks for the post from someone who lives this. You are an entertaining writer! You are fortunate that your spouse is so supportive. I could learn something from her!

          My husband has joked about wanting to go on Ritalin because he would LIKE the side effect of curbed appetite. This is a problem for my 9 year old son. I make sure he has a good breakfast, and a snack ready for when he gets home, because he hardly eats any lunch at all. He does continue to gain weight, and, while on the thin side, is still within normal limits for his height (which is quite tall for his age.) He also isn't sleepy until about 10:00 or 11:00 at night. For this reason, I let him sleep in as long as possible, and drive him to school instead of putting him on the bus. I wouldn't like those side effects, either. But, the side effects are by far the lesser of 2 evils, as I'm afraid he would have ended up in a Behavior Disordered classroom, without the Ritalin. Younger son was suspended one day, as a kindergartner, spent MUCH time in the principal's office and if he hadn't had such a wonderful teacher, would have been hated by his classmates. This was all before Ritalin. I know medication isn't for everyone, but in our case, it is a life saver.


          • #6
            Yes, Gern is very fortunate to have a spouse who supports him in his life. Without her, Gern would probably have long ago wandered down the path so many adult ADD patients tread.
            Gern tried Ritalin. The side effects are loss of sleep and a racing pulse. The latter effect drove poor Gern from the medication. Otherwise, it is very effective. The loss of sleep wasn't really an issue as ADD patients like to soak up as much life as humanly possible.
            Gern has a theory though, adult ADD people tend to be extremely creative, energetic and driven. A lot entertainment types like muscians fall into this lot. It also explains a lot of the self destructive behavior found in them. The challenge of the ADD patient is to exploit the positive and avoid the pitfalls.


            • #7
              There are many undiagnosed ADD/ADHD adults out there and sadly, many also still have a hard time getting anyone in the medical field to take them seriously. Many times they're told "You've adapted and survived this long without medication...I don't see any reason to put you on it now!"

              sue m


              • #8
                SueM brings up a good point. You just can't go into your family practice doctor and demand Ritalin. It requires a diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional. My good friend Gern went through a battery of testing. Some of it was fun, some very tedious. Took the better part of a month. A lot of the same tests they give Alzheimer's patients. Memory, concentration, spatial skills, intelligence tests. What they look for is spikes and valleys in each test. A typical ADD patient does extremely well in some tests and mediocre or poorly in other tests. Gern broke the clinic record in one test where complex shapes needed to be formed from simple blocks. The tester didn't believe it and made Gern do it twice because of the extraordinary time. Kinda like Rainman counting toothpicks. They also interview spouses, family members, friends and coworkers to get a feel for how the patient responds in the real world. Overall, a pretty thorough evaluation. That report is then sent back to your family doctor to recommend treatment options. Counciling is part of it, for both the patient and the family that must live with the patient. That's where the weekly punch list came from and the supportive spouse.